Saturday, March 12, 2011

Esther: Queen of the Masquerade

The story and miracle of Purim focus on Esther’s ability to keep her Jewish identity secret. As the niece of one of Jewry’s most respected leaders this cannot have been a simple task. Her identity was surely known to many, yet no one exposed Esther as a Jew. The Talmud (Megilla, Daf 13a) tells us that Achashverosh sent gifts across his empire in the hopes of discovering her origins. Those who knew of Esther’s identity must have, on some level, appreciated the significance of her decision to keep it a secret. And Esther, surrounded by all the luxuries of the known world, lived in the fear of exposure.
She bid her time and, when the moment was right, approached Achashverosh with the truth, saving Jews across the Persian Empire from certain death.
Gay frum Jews are not something new. What is new is that now, in the 21st century, we are beginning to make others aware of our existence. Most recently, a young woman at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women wrote about her experiences in the closet (the entire article can be found here). Though YU has, over the past couple of years, served as an outlet for discussing homosexuality within Orthodox Jewry, this was the first time a lesbian spoke out. Her contribution is important because, by bringing the often overlook existence of lesbian frum Jews to the limelight and expanding the dialogue to reveal yet another layer of truth, her article offers more validity to our struggle.
I often find myself wondering “Why now? What is it about this point in Jewish history that makes this the right time for us to awaken Judaism to our existence?” Obviously, we gay frum Jews can only come out now because of the social progress made across the western world. Still, I think there must be both a purpose and a lesson to be learnt by Jews around the world in the fact that we are coming out. The veil Esther kept over her identity allowed her to save the Jews, what reason can G-d have for allowing all of this to transpire now?
I acknowledge that we can never truly know G-d’s master plan, but is there harm I curiosity?
I have some thoughts, but I would like to  challenge my readers to contemplate this question.

On a side note, I think this is the perfect opportunity to reiterate a point I have made in the past: If you are gay and struggling with that fact, revealing your true identity—coming out of the closet—should only be done when you are ready. Do not let people pressure you into making a rushed decision. This doesn’t mean postpone it forever, I don’t think that decision would be mentally sound, but take the steps necessary at your own speed.

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